PHOENIX -- Side-arming right-hander Tim Dillard and hard-throwing left-hander Juan Perez have been very impressive in the early part of the Cactus League schedule and are solidly under consideration for Opening Day jobs, manager Ron Roenicke said Saturday.
Assuming swingman Marco Estrada is not needed in the starting rotation, the Brewers have two open relief roles. Besides Dillard, other right-handed candidates include Brandon Kintzler and Mike McClendon. Other lefties competing with Perez are Manny Parra and Zack Braddock.
Dillard is a particularly interesting case. Two years ago in Spring Training, he dramatically altered his mechanics to revive a stalled career, switching from an over-the-top delivery to a sidearm sling. Dillard posted a 4.12 ERA in 2010 while adjusting to the change in the Minors, then a 3.58 ERA and .221 opponents' batting average in 2011 as his command improved. He also returned to the big leagues for the first time since '09, pitching twice out of the Brewers' bullpen.
"He's got very good velocity for a guy down under," Roenicke said. "That 88 [mph], when you talk to guys, it looks 95. ... What I see of him, I really like what he's doing. He can get a strikeout on a really good hitter."
Does Dillard have a chance to make the team?
"He's got a good
chance to make our team," Roenicke said.
Perez qualifies as something of a spring surprise, a non-roster invitee who signed a Minor League deal with Milwaukee just before Christmas. He's pitched professionally since 1999 but only has 32 Major League appearances to his credit.
He touched 95 mph on the radar gun Wednesday against the White Sox, then worked 1 1/3 hitless innings against the Indians on Friday.
"We're not looking just, is he performing well? We're looking at what kind of stuff he has," Roenicke said. "He has good stuff. I didn't realize he had that good stuff."